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Natural selection: More black women getting back to hair care basics

Talia Whyte | 10/7/2009, 5:27 a.m.

Like many modern young people, Donald headed straight for YouTube, where she watched video tutorials on managing black hair. Last year, she started the process of transitioning her hair, beginning by wearing braids. Now she sports her hair with short twists and she says that she only spends about $20 per month on organic hair products like Shea butter.

“Being natural is a process in itself,” she said. “My hair is still a work in progress.”

With an eye toward helping others in the same boat, Donald started the Boston Natural Hair Meet Up Group in August. The group aims to provide a safe space for people with natural hair or who are aspiring to live a more natural lifestyle. She said many people come looking for open-minded stylists willing to do their hair.

Finding such a stylist can sometimes be difficult, even in black hair salons. William Getschell, stylist and owner of W Salon in the South End, said that many black stylists actually fear natural hair.

“Most stylists don’t like doing natural hair because it takes too much time and too many steps,” he said. “People are also just intimidated by natural hair, and don’t know what to do with it.”

Getschell has spent the last 20 years working with natural hair, and he said he thoroughly enjoys doing it, mainly because it is healthier.

Malden resident Barbara Robinson, 26, shaved off her relaxed hair in 2005 and now sports dreadlocks. That choice debunked in her mind the myth that natural hair is frowned upon by white people; she said she has faced more discriminatory attitudes from blacks than whites.

As a matter of fact, Robinson said, she was hired for a job once because of her natural locks, which she does herself, like Donald, with some help from the Internet.

Robinson said blacks need to get over their fear of their own hair.

“I get compliments, because more people today are realizing that natural is beautiful,” she said. “When you are natural, you are being yourself.”